In the afterword to the 30th-anniversary edition of his 1975 novel, Ernest Callenbach writes, “Looking back, it seems clear that Ecotopia was the first attempt to portray a sustainable society, and that this, more than its modest literary merit, explains its durability.” Sadly, there is no false humility in that statement.
Ecotopia is ostensibly about a secessionist Northwest — northern California, Oregon, and Washington — founded on ecological principles. In this independent land, cars are abolished, everybody recycles, and sewage is turned to fertilizer. More fundamentally, Ecotopia is a “stable-state” society, where old notions of economic progress are retired and “biological stasis” becomes the ultimate goal. That sounds good, as far as it goes; however, the vision is weighed down by so much extraneous cultural baggage — Marxism, paganism, free love, ritual warfare, communal living, abortion on demand, legalized drugs, gamelan orchestras — that readers coming to Ecotopia for the first time... Read more